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Restoration: "The artistic as well as the
military genius of France was attached to
these pictures, these marbles, these bronzes,
with more passion and with a passion more
noble than was felt for treasures and for
territories." Nevertheless, after all, the
devastation of the Louvreas it was then called,
and as it was then considered to be, by the
Parisianswas really nothing more than a
simple and unavoidable act of general restitution.
A consideration this, however, in no
way assuaging the anguish of the wound
administered at the time to French patriotism,
an anguish still resounding in the
impassioned verses in which the event was
contemporaneously lamented by Casimir
Delavigne, through the indignant and mournful
cadence of his elegies, entitled Masséniennes.


It matters not much what I am now. I
may be the chairman of the Balls Pond
Mining and Quartz Crushing Company
(Limited); I may be the governor of the
United Banks of Shetland and Tierra del
Fuego, or any other incarnation of intense
respectability and supreme authority; but
one thing is certainI was once a boy. If
some of my City friends will condescend to
throw aside that stiff mask which they wear
from nine to five, and that other equally stiff
but very genteel mask which they wear to
the west of Temple Bar, from five to twelve,
I will take them kindly aud naturally by the
button-hole, and tell them, to the best of my
ability, what kind of a boy I was; what I
did; what I liked; and what I disliked.

I was decidedly a street-boy; and perhaps
a sharp boy. I was allowed to walk about
for the benefit of my health; because, when I
went to school, I caught the hooping-cough,
the scarlet fever, the chickenpox, and the
measles. These calamities procured me
freedom of action, with a certain amount of
pocket-money. I knew every street-tumbler
as well as my own father. I knew the thin
youth in the white leggings, who did the
splits equal to any acrobat in Europe; and
the stout posturer in pink leggings, who was
always striking an attitude of menace towards
his partner, and who threw a hand-spring,
two flip-flaps, and a back-summersault without
the aid of a spring-board. I knew the man
with the brass balls, the rings, the doll; and
the little boy who used to wriggle through
the spokes of the ladder while it was being
balanced on his father's chin. If any boy
got a blow with the balls which were swung
at the end of a rope to clear the ring, I was
that boy; but, to show that I bore no malice,
I used to be the first to volunteer to enter
the circle when a lad was required to have
his head cut off. I used to stand by the side
of the man with the drum watching the
artistic touches that he gave to the
instrument, and listening to the delicate light and
shade which he imparted to his performance
on the mouth-organ. I believe, now I come
to reflect, at a mature age, that I must have
been present on the last occasion when a live
donkey was balanced on the top of a ladder
resting on a man's chin. All went well for a
few minutes, when a slight impatient movement
of the quadruped caused the ladder to
incline, and the performer, after vainly trying
to restore its perpendicular, was compelled to
let it go, and the animal fell with a crash
through a cheesemonger's window. The
donkey was not killed, out the whole troupe
were taken to the station-house; and a new
police regulation forbade any such performance
in future. An aunt of mine declared
that it was a judgment upon the cheesemonger
(who used to serve her) for the
reckless manner in which he bought and
used waste-paper, without any regard to
what it had been in its bound and printed

I knew the group of children upon stilts,
but I never took kindly to them. They
were more calculated to interest those
well-regulated boys who were never allowed to
see any of the sights I have mentioned,
except from the safe paternal fastness of a
bedroom window. But I mixed with the
wild throng, learned their habits, their
prospects, and their rounds, and nearly always
knew the hour, the day, and the place at
which to expect them. I was familiar with
the street bands that played at public-house
doors: I even knew their little loves and
hatreds. I have seen an harmonious
partnership broken up, and the piccolo and the
violoncello refuse to work any longer with
the bugle (there were bugles in those days)
and the violin. I have even seen the bugle
out by himself, doing a very good solo
business in a thick marketing street like
Shoreditch, on a Saturday night. I have often
seen the trombone very drunk and incapable;
and an old fellow with red, blown-out cheeks,
extremely vain about his manner of executing
the Last Rose of Summer on a cracked

Many a time have I stood with untiring
patience outside a public-house for several
hours, when I saw the familiar machine
standing at the door, with its drapery tucked
up, waiting for the proprietor to come out
after dinner flushed with beer. When a
"pitch" took place, how I used to watch the
windows of the substantial houses, to see
if any smiling nursemaids, with delighted
children, made their appearance, backed by
the paper of halfpence from the benevolent
parents, without which and the general
encouragement of the crowd, I knew, from
long experience, no performance would take
place. The fantoccini I pronounced to be a
bore; a something only to be endured if
nothing better was to be had. The idiotic
Turk who threw up two orange-looking
balls, first one and then the other, no more